I think for me and Jess, travelling together has been a true test of our relationship. We are together 24/7 with no end in sight unlike a 2 week holiday where you know soon enough you will be back to work away from each other for 8 hours a day, or living together when you only actually spend the weekends and evenings together – you still get your ‘me’ time.
Travelling with a partner is an amazing experience, if you both are ready and aware for what you have let yourself in for! We have been travelling now for a year and 10 days, that’s 375 days, 9,000 hours, or 540,000 minutes… And of those 9,000 hours, we have probably spent 100 hours apart if we were working different shifts. So, we have spent approximately 8,900 hours in each other’s company (including sleep) and for 6 of those months we spent living in a car with literally no space away from each other. We work together, sleep together, eat together, sometimes even go to the toilet together (when you have to squat in the middle of nowhere in the dark, it’s slightly more comforting knowing someone is next to you…)! Intense is an understatement but I wouldn’t want to do it with anyone else.
Here’s a few tips to try and keep your sanity when travelling with a partner:
Find Level Ground and be Prepared to Compromise
If you are with someone who loves absolutely everything you love and you always agree with each other, then you sir is a very lucky guy (or lady….). You need to accept and understand that you aren’t always going to want to do the same things and find a happy medium. One of you can choose the activity for one day, and the other for the next day – but don’t expect your other half to do things they don’t want to do if you aren’t willing to make the same compromise.
I like to think of myself as pretty adventurous. I will quite happily throw myself off a 216m high bridge, whilst Jess is a worrier who is scared anything and everything will kill her. She hates heights, so when I decided to do my bungee jump she was happy to watch and film from the view point! There have been other times when I have not wanted to do something that she has and vice versa, but we will either grin and bare it or happily sit and watch the other enjoy themselves!
Get Comfortable with One Another
No I don’t mean eat a few more burgers to make your chest a comfier cushion. I mean try and get used to those things that make you feel uncomfortable or embarrassed – for example, farting in front of each other (although I do wish Jess was still embarrassed to do that). Forget the myth that girls don’t poop, because they definitely do and it is perfectly natural. Even if this sounds like your nightmare, it will come. Just be yourself and remember these things are natural… A case of Bali belly is sure to push your comfort levels!
Sleep, Eat and Hug
If you have ever been in the foulest mood possible, only to be happy as larry a few minutes later because you had some dinner, raise your hand. What about if you didn’t get quite enough sleep last night and every single thing in life is pissing you right off?
I think we are all guilty of being a bit grumpy when our body is lacking fuel. And who are we going to take that out on in the middle of nowhere? Your poor travel companion who has probably done absolutely nothing wrong – unless they too are tired or hungry, or both, in which case we may have a murder case on our hands. If your feeling down, or angry stop and have a quick snack, nap or even a nice long hug! There is scientific proof that a decent hug can actually lift your mood by increasing the flow of oxytocin in your body (no I don’t know what oxytocin is but google says it so it must be true, because everything you read on the interest is true!!!!).
Be Thoughtful and Respectful to One Another and Definitely Don’t be Annoying
Remember that you are travelling together and will be in a confined space, therefore you have to think about the both of you. It is easier to respect your buddy rather than pissing them off to the point of no return and ruining your day if not your entire trip. I know for a fact that I have a tendency to be very annoying. Although I would never admit it, most of the time it’s on purpose. I have so much fun winding Jess up, until she gets so wound up she is shouting at me to shut up rather than laughing along with me! I then get pissed off that she is pissed off and we end up crying about nothing!
Be Honest with Each Other
It is perfectly fine to have your down days, the days when you totally disagree with the other or really don’t want to do something. It can be an awkward and hard conversation to approach though, but in the long run will help you out so much. Rather than things building up in side you then erupting into a huge argument, a casual chat will let out your feelings and maybe even put your worries into perspective and make you realise they aren’t even a big deal! Jess always finds it easiest to talk about things she is worried about in bed when it’s dark so I can’t see her face – maybe so she has something to hide behind and doesn’t feel quite so vulnerable.
Have Some ‘Me’ Time
Ok so going for a drink with the guys or going to get your self pampered probably isn’t easily do-able, but taking some time away is important. Even if that is just an hour reading a book, or taking a stroll it is nice to let your mind relax and not have to worry about anyone else other than yourself. Don’t feel like you are being selfish by needing your own space – even the best couples in the world need some down time.
Accept that you Will Argue
It is perfectly natural and expected that couples will argue. Most of the time it will be about the stupidest of things and will be over in 5 minutes. Sometimes it is good to just blow off some steam, and then realise you are both being stupid and break in to laughter mid argument. However, if you realise that you are arguing too much, and find yourself constantly walking on egg shells trying to avoid upsetting the other, perhaps you should take a minute to consider if you are happy in your current situation. (This is NOT relationship advice, please don’t break up with your girlfriend because of this).
Don’t Allow Others Opinions to Influence your Own Feelings
Trust yourself enough to follow your own feelings. People are always going to comment claiming they know what’s best for you or are looking out for you (ok in some situations they are right). Those back at home are probably just jealous of your life and relationship, and it makes them feel better to make you doubt your choice of travel buddy. If you are happy and safe, don’t let anyone bring you down!
Try and allow yourself some time to really get to know the person you are committing to spend the next X amount of months/years with. You will be in such close contact almost all of the time it’s important to know that you get on, feel comfortable with them and can trust them. Perhaps test the waters with a 2-week holiday to get a feel for how much you really enjoy each other’s company. It won’t be very fun 1 month into your travels you realise the perfect girl you met and fell in love with within a week is actually a serial killer with a fetish for cheesy, hairy feet?!!
Remember You Always Have a Choice
If things really aren’t working out, remember you have other options. Deciding to go your separate ways may sound scary. The idea of travelling by yourself might not appeal to you, but there are so many ways of connecting now with other travellers heading in the same direction as you who would be happy to buddy up. Facebook groups are the best for this – but always keep your wits about you meeting up with people online, make sure someone knows where you are going and who you will be with, and put your Facebook stalking skills to the test if they seem a bit fishy online (have you seen ever even watched Catfish?!?).
Me and Jess haven’t actually experienced this yet, but I’m sure in time there will be places that we don’t want to go to together. For example, I’d love to attend a martial arts school in China – this doesn’t appeal to Jess. On the other hand, she wants to head to Poland and visit Auschwitz which isn’t really my cup of tea! At the end of the day we have picked one another out of the whole world so I’m sure a few days, weeks or maybe even months apart won’t do too much harm. How does the saying go? ‘Absence makes the heart grow fonder’, so if and when that time comes we will let you know how it turns out!
Ben is one half of Ben and Jess’s Adventures. He is a dreamer, constantly coming up with extravagant and unusual ideas of where we should head to next. His favourite idea is to spend a year in China learning Kung-Fu taught by monks. Scared of nothing and always up for a thrill he can sometimes land himself in some unfortunate circumstances like this one time he broke and dislocated his wrist in Australia and ended up in hospital for a week! No matter how much trouble he lands himself in, his cheeky charm will always get him out of it!